“Should you really be doing this, tou-san?” Kyo asked dubiously, watching her dad rather sceptically as he gingerly moved around the kitchen. “Kaa-san won't be happy.”
Kou winced quietly when he raised one arm too fast, giving her a quick look over his shoulder.
“I can't stay in bed for the rest of my life,” he said simply, as if he hadn't almost died a little over two weeks ago. Been released from the hospital just the other day. “I'm taking it easy, Kyo,” he added when she continued to stare worriedly at him.
“Okay,” she reluctantly followed him to the door. “Will you tell me what we're doing?”
“You'll see soon enough, kitten.”
Kyo made a disgusted face.
She still had no idea where the sudden nickname had come from; it wasn't like her tou-san had called her that before he went on that disastrous mission. It was like he had just woken up from surgery with it in his head.
She hadn't been able to make him stop using it, either, and she figured that the bigger the fuss she made, the more amusing he'd find it.
“If you start bleeding, I'm telling kaa-san,” she decided firmly, taking tou-san's hand and all but bouncing down the stairs from their apartment door, taking care not to tug on her dad's arm while she was at it.
“Fair enough,” Kou mused.
Kyo was both excited and worried when the man steered them in a familiar direction.
The look she gave him when they walked onto the training field they usually used to practice katas made him snort.
“No worries, I'll just observe, today,” Kou promised with slightly exaggerated solemnity.
Kyo squinted up at him, but eventually shrugged. He was supposed to be the adult here.
“So what are you teaching me today?” She asked, all excitement now.
It'd been a while since she'd learned anything new; it'd all been either repetition or lessons building on earlier ones. Kaa-san had been busy and stressed enough to deal with tou-san, his hospital stay as well as taking care of Kyo, to focus very much on anything else.
Kou smiled and carefully eased himself down onto the ground, crossing his legs and pulling a carefully wrapped package from his hip pouch.
Instead of handing it to her, he put it on the ground between them, mentioning for Kyo to sit down as well. When he opened it, the thick paper peeled back to reveal a set of-
“Kunai?” Kyo asked slowly, blinking with surprise at the shiny metal knives.
“Exactly,” Kou said, sounding rather pleased with himself. “I asked Yuuta to get them for me.”
“Why?” Kyo asked, curious despite herself.
After a look at her father for permission, she reached down to pick one of them up, and it wasn't until then that she realised how well they fit her hand.
They were small; child-sized.
“To get you started on target practice,” Kou said. “But first; the grip.”
And he proceeded to gently correct her hold on the weapon in her hand, positioning her fingers just so before letting go.
Thankfully, the knives had been blunted, Kyo was distantly pleased to note.
“Is this my birthday present?” She asked, because her birthday was just a little over a week away, so it would make sense.
“Yes. One of them, at least; I've received some very reliable intel that your mother's planned something, too,” Kou whispered conspiratorial, even going so far as to add a wink.
Kyo grinned and turned back to her gift.
Or, part of her gift, at least, because she would definitely count the lesson her dad planned to give her to the gift. Especially considering his less than perfect health.
“Now,” Kou continued, “stand up and get into the starting kata I showed you, Kyo.”
“Okay!” Kyo chirped and jumped to her feet, eagerly getting into position, the kunai still held in hand.
And it felt weird to do it with the added weight in her hand.
Hopefully, she wouldn't end up accidentally stabbing herself.
Considering how clumsy she'd been in her last life, especially as a child, it was a legitimate concern.
After going through the katas she'd been taught, which all served as an excellent warm-up exercise, she realised, Kyo bounced back to her dad with a wide grin.
Kou gave her a pleased nod. “You've practised,” he commented, smiling approvingly. “Okay, see that wooden post over there?”
Kyo nodded. “Should I try to hit it?” She asked, tilting her head, considering, as she peered over at the post in question.
“That is the plan,” tou-san mused. He looked her over once, still sitting in the same spot he'd first settled down in. “Widen your stance, make sure you're holding the kunai like I showed you, take aim and give it a try.”
“Okay,” Kyo said, squaring her shoulders determinedly.
She'd had a decent aim in her Before life. Mostly because her then-father's side of the family had all been nuts about competitions and games. Much to her ever-lasting exasperation and despair.
She might get something out of it, here, though.
Kyo was well aware that nothing other than her memories had really transferred over into this body, but that didn't mean she didn't have a better understanding of some things than another child in her position.
Taking careful aim, Kyo raised her arm, threw the knife and-
Missed by a long shot.
Grimacing, she sent her tou-san an apologetic look.
Kou didn't even look mildly surprised, though, and merely smiled back at her. “Go get it and I'll show you how to do it properly this time.”
“Sneaky,” she mumbled before she ran off to get the kunai lying on the ground a little further than halfway between where she'd been standing and the post.
It was covered in dust and had gotten a few shallow scratches from sliding on the ground, and she felt a slight twinge of regret. It was more than a bit ridiculous, she knew, because the kunai was meant to be used. Didn't change how she felt, though.
“Okay,” she said, skidding to a halt in front of her dad, giving him an expectant look.
Kou's smile grew. “Take your stance again,” he ordered.
Kyo quickly did so, and then paid careful attention while her tou-san poked and prodded her into the correct position.
“Now,” he said once he appeared to be satisfied with her stance. “There are several ways to throw a kunai, but we'll focus on the most basic one for starters, okay?” He waited long enough for Kyo to nod before he continued. “The over-hand throw,” and he proceeded to show her how to bring her hand almost up to her shoulder. “The trick is to flick your wrist,” he finished, leaning back and rubbing a hand absently to his chest, studying her stance critically. “Try again.”
Kyo nodded, following her dad's directions as closely as she was able and tried to end the motion with a proper flick of the wrist before she let go of the kunai.
“Better,” Kou said. “Again.” And he pushed the package with the rest of the kunai closer to her.
Kyo determinedly grabbed a new one, and turned to stare the wooden post down. The kunai had gone wide, missing by well over a metre and falling slightly short.
She wasn't sure how long she kept at it, throwing again and again, pausing only long enough to collect the knives when she'd thrown all of them and starting anew. She kept at it until her arms ached.
“Last throw, Kyo-chan,” tou-san finally said, watching her throw the final kunai. Which veered way off target. Out of all the attempts, she had managed to hit the wooden post once, and the kunai had buried itself just off the ground; not even close to where she'd been aiming.
With an unhappy, tired frown, Kyo walked to collect every single one of the scattered kunai and then returned to her dad.
“Here, kitten,” he said, holding out a holster that looked almost identical to the one he was wearing, if smaller in size.
Kyo accepted it and tentatively began to put the knives in it, shooting her tou-san questioning looks every now and then to make sure she was doing it right. When she was done, he helped her strap it onto her leg.
“Now I want to see those hands of yours,” he said, holding out one hand expectantly while the other one reached into the pouch strapped on the back of his right hip.
Kyo dutifully held out her sore hands, fully aware of the blisters she'd gotten during the last few hours.
Kou rubbed experimentally at one of the worst ones, giving her a speculative glance when she winced.
“You work very hard, Kyo, and that's good; something to be proud of,” he said, finally withdrawing a jar from his pouch. “But you also need to take proper care of yourself.”
“Sorry, tou-san,” she sighed, watching while the man rubbed some sort of fatty salve into her palms, coating the skin and making sure to get every blister and cut. “I'll do better.”
“We'll continue tomorrow, and I'll show you how to care for your gift properly, too,” Kou smiled, ruffling her hair and playfully almost pushing her over.
“Hey!” She protested, trying to smooth her now-static hair down with a small scowl, before she remembered her hands were all sticky with an unhappy grimace and stopped.
The smile on her tou-san's face made her pause, though. Kyo slowly lowered her arms, feeling a bit self-conscious.
“Come on; let's go home,” Kou said and stiffly climbed to his feet, and Kyo definitely caught the wince he had to bite back. “Your kaa-san's no doubt waiting and you should get something to eat after working so hard.”
“Okay,” Kyo agreed, slipping her hand into Kou's, and tiredly trudged next to him back home.
Her birthday was a quiet affair, followed by her mother being called out on mission.
It would be the first time Kyo and her dad would be left to themselves for more than just a couple of days.
“But when will you be back?” Kyo asked Isshun with a frown, sitting on her parents' bed. She didn't like not knowing.
“I'm not sure, sweetheart,” Isshun sighed, not even pausing in her packing, going through her pockets and pouches and adding things every now and then. “Probably a month.”
Kou was standing in the doorway behind her, watching the two of them with his hands in his pockets and a serious cast to his face.
“Kyo, this isn't something we can argue about,” Isshun said firmly. “You know I have to go, and I'd much rather not spend the last few minutes with my family fighting.”
Kyo bit her lower lip, blinking back tears.
“Isshun,” Kou said quietly, and there was a quiet reprimand hidden in his voice, making the woman pause what she was doing to frown at him.
He gave her a pointed look.
“Don't get hurt, okay?” Kyo asked wetly, voice trembling and she was quickly losing the fight against her tears.
“Oh,” Isshun blinked, threw a quick glance at Kou, and then stopped what she was doing to crouch down in front of her. “I'm sorry, Kyo.” She sighed and pulled her into a tight hug.
“Just because I got hurt last time doesn't mean your kaa-san will do the same,” Kou said gently, walking up to them to smooth a hand over her hair. “She's very sneaky, your kaa-san, Kyo.”
Kyo muffled a sob against her mother's shoulder, which wasn't as comfortable as it usually was, because she was wearing the thick, sturdy green vest that either designated her as a Chuunin or Jounin. She didn't even care any more which one it was.
“I promise I'll be careful, love,” Isshun told her soothingly, pressing a quick kiss to her temple. “Be good to your father and make sure he doesn't land himself back in the hospital by straining himself too quickly, okay?” She smiled faintly.
Kyo took a deep breath and wiped her face with one blistered hand.
“I'll do my best, but no promises,” she said, managing a weak smile.
“That's my girl,” Isshun cupped her face with both hands, giving her an intent, lingering look. As if she was trying to sear the sight into her memory. “I love you, Kyo-chan.”
“Love you, too, kaa-san,” Kyo returned, and sadly watched her mother finish her packing and then pulled Kou down into a deep, almost desperate kiss.
Kyo wasn't the only one affected by her tou-san's near-death experience.
“I'll see you two in a month,” Isshun said, sounding a bit breathless, and before anyone could say anything else, she was gone.
Kyo took in the heavy silence, trying to catch any hint of her mother, but when a full minute had passed, she turned to her dad, gave him one look and then burst into tears.
Kou sighed, picked her up -despite the pained wince the action pulled from him- and carried her to the living room, where he sank down on the couch.
“She'll be back before you know it,” he said, though it sounded more like a prayer than a promise.
Kyo shamelessly sobbed into her tou-san's shirt.